How to Read Body Language Signals to Avoid Mistakes and STOP Intimidation Tactics (part 2)


Neutralizing a strong personality
When shaking hands with someone who is dominant with a strong handshake, try taking that extra step forward and walking almost into them, straighten their hand at the same time. This will neutralize the situation as it makes them feel uncomfortable because you've invaded their space.

Where do you look?
The eyes, where do you stare? Well most of us are told to look someone in the eye to convey or transmit trust, it comes from when we were young and we were challenged by an elder to "look me in the eye and tell me you're telling the truth". The problem with staring someone directly in the eyes, is that it's at best uncomfortable, at worst it's intimidating and causes people to feel uncomfortable, wary and even suspicious.

Beady or Bambi eyes?
Reading other peoples eyes can be rewarding, because the eyes dilate or constrict depending on enthusiasm or concealment. When someone is interested, excited, enthusiastic, their eyes will dilate. Likewise when someone is concealing something or even lying, their eyes will constrict, often described as beady eyes.

This is very useful in the sales process and when negotiating or even interviewing, because eyes are easy to read with a little bit of practice.

Eyes up or down?
After you have been talking to someone for a few minutes, you'll have a good feel at how often they are looking at you and where they look. If they start to look up after you're asking questions they are probably trying to recall what happened or how they feel about the questions that you're asking.

However if they start to look down and away they maybe trying to conceal their real feelings about something, or maybe trying to avoid giving you an honest answer.

The friendly zone
As a general rule it's better to look someone in the face rather than directly into the eye. The cheekbones is fine as well because this is regarded a the social zone and makes people feel far more comfortable.

The dominant gaze
Just as a tip, If you're with someone who is trying to intimidate you, keep on talking to them but stare at their forehead and keep it up. It's amazing how it makes them feel awkward after a few minutes and they start to back down because they can't quite figure out what's going on, and it makes them feel uncomfortable.

Blushing can give the game away!
As a child when I was embarrassed by something I usually went bright red, as a teenager it didn't happen so often and as I grew up it happened very rarely. When you're in a business meeting with someone, and they are thinking one thing and saying another, it is likely to come out in small blushes.

You would not see the redness of the skin, but the fact that somebody is perhaps touching their nose or above their eye, or down the side of their nose or earlobes, suggests that there is heat there, and there is also blood that's come to the surface of the skin. That tells you really that whilst they're saying one thing they are in fact thinking another.

Breathing speeds up!
What also happens when someone is a little concerned, or has decided to keep something back, is that they tend to breathe that little bit more quickly. The more worried they are the quicker they breathe and this of course flattens the voice, loses some of its tone and people tend to talk a lot more quickly because of it.

Keeping mistakes to a minimum
How do you make good use of reading body language signals and yet keep mistakes to a minimum? Well, the general rule is to rely on signals that happen immediately after something has just been said, whether by you or them.

You'd normally see something after a bold direct question or a bold answer, another helpful hint is to look for a number of signals that happen in a short space of time. This is called a cluster, and proves to be very reliable when reading body language.

Improving your own body language
One of the most frequently asked questions I get with regards to body language is "can my own body language be improved"? and the simple answer is yes! The best way of going about it is to talk to a colleague or a friend, somebody in the family, somebody you trust.

Ask them, is your handshake good, is it nice and upright, are you standing too close to people or too far away, is your eye contact just about right. Your good friends will know, and they'll be able to put you right and prevent you from making mistakes that might be harmful in business and even in your social life.

Take your time and let things settle down
One of the things I suggest to people, is to find ordinary things to talk about at the beginning of a meeting. Things about their company, about your company, harmless things really, but it allows you to get used to the way their body works, how their voice sounds.

Then when the meeting progresses into the more awkward areas, where perhaps you're trying to close them or negotiate with them, you'll be able to see those changes in their body language and react accordingly.

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